2- Getting in the Way: Mattole forest defense continues

By E.E.Z.

Out on the verdant slopes of Rainbow Ridge in Northern California, forest defenders have been keeping busy doing what we do best – getting in the way. Our nemesis, Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC), is trying to plunder yet another tributary of the beloved Mattole river under the guise of “sustainable” logging. (Read about past resistance in Slingshot #130).

In November 2019 we slowed work down, blocking roads, putting our bodies in the way and documenting the devastating reality of an active logging site. HRC called in their own security goons, plus their buddies – Humboldt County sheriffs, private militarized security, and State Parks cops – to try to maintain business as usual. Some of us got arrested, spent time in jail, and are facing a slew of misdemeanors (stay tuned for our trials this spring, which should be lively). We delayed work up until wet weather ended the logging season, but this area will be under threat as soon as spring comes, and we’ll be fighting for it.

We know that Rainbow is a microcosm for what is happening all over the world, as people who love and depend on the land struggle against corporate, extractive industry. Greenwashed marketing, which HRC uses extensively, is more and more prevalent as corporations try to appeal to growing public consciousness around climate chaos and the sixth mass extinction. It is imperative that we resist these narratives as we call for true sustainable solutions.

Do you hate cops and billionaires? Love massive oak and fir trees, tiny endangered orchids, arboreal rodents, and cold, salmon bearing streams? Join us in defense of these creatures and their global relevance in this age of habitat fragmentation.

Follow what’s happening on social media:

Instagram: @blockade.babes, facebook: Save The Mattole Ancient Forestsavethemattolesancientforest.com

Earth First! Humboldt supports forest defenders. Contact us: efhum@riseup.net

2- Introduction to Slingshot issue 131

Slingshot is an independent radical newspaper published in Berkeley since 1988.

In the Bay Area right now, the houselessness crisis is getting so bad that it feels just like the climate crisis — like it is hard to imagine it getting any worse, but yet every day, it does. Walking through town, the ever-expanding tent cities stand in contrast to the trendy housing developments and rent increases (#rentcooties). But while addressing climate chaos feels like an unsurmountable challenge, the housing affordability crisis shouldn’t be. It just takes sharing resources more justly — everyone should have one house before anyone gets two.

But the world isn’t like that yet. As Slingshot went to press, sheriffs with AR-15s and tanks evicted 4 moms who who had been openly squatting an investor owned empty home for 2 months. The Moms for Housing remind us not to blame each other for the struggle to survive in the Bay, but to blame the corporations manipulating the market — and to call it what it is, an affordability crisis! Let the speculators get so pissed, they take an Uber to a Starbucks! While we are busy on the frontlines of struggles from houselessness to climate catastrophe, electoral politics threaten to totally distract us from what really matters. Does anyone know about any riots or protests planned against major-party conventions this year?

This year, we remember the 30th year since Judi Bari was bombed and nearly killed right here in Oakland, and was accused by the FBI of bombing herself. Judi’s spirit keeps us fighting in the woods and in the courts. Meanwhile, during this issue’s production, MOVE member and Black Panther Delbert Africa was released from prison after over 40 years — the sixth MOVE comrade released in the past year. For better or for worse, one of the threads that connects various radical movements is government repression.

Making Slingshot is a respite from environmental devastation, repression and corporate bullshit because it feels like we are doing something, but it’s still so inadequate in the face of the big yuck. Just a few weeks ago, after a US drone killed an Iranian general, one collective member found themselves crying over an encrypted call with relatives in Iran, fearing deadly international conflict manufactured by the ruling class. Shit is hitting the fan on all levels. We have to find joy in small things, like one collective member who is 7 years old doing circus arts while we are doing layout, in the inside jokes shared with the people beside us in the body blockade, or in storytelling about freebox scores.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a writer, consider authoring a piece for Slingshot. We aren’t writers, either! The best articles are about a subject the author is directly engaged in. If you send an article, please be open to editing.

We’re a collective, but not all the articles reflect the opinions of all collective members. We welcome debate and constructive criticism.

Thanks to the people who made this: Adam, Alina, Cat, Dickie, egg, Fern, Gerald, Ingrid, Isabel, Jesse, Lazer, Nyx, Rachelle, Reno Joey, Sylvia, Talia and all the authors and artists!

Slingshot New Volunteer Meeting

Volunteers interested in getting involved with Slingshot can come to the new volunteer meeting on Sunday August 16, 2020 at 7 pm at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below.)

Article Deadline & Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 132 by September 12, 2020 at 3 pm.

Volume 1, Number 131, Circulation 22,000

Printed January 24, 2020

Slingshot Newspaper

A publication of Long Haul

Office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley CA 94705

Mailing: PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

510-540-0751 slingshotcollective@protonmail.com

slingshotcollective.org • twitter @slingshotnews

Circulation information
Subscriptions to Slingshot are free to prisoners, low income, or anyone in the USA with a Slingshot Organizer, or $1 per issue. International $3 per issue. Outside the Bay Area we’ll mail you a free stack of copies if you give them out for free. Say how many copies and how long you’ll be at your address. In the Bay Area pick up copies at Long Haul and Bound Together books, SF.

1- At the Hotel Villahermosa: Inside an immigration Detention Center

The first thing I noticed when I entered the room were the clothes. Hundreds of shirts, socks, shorts, ragged and wet, hanging flat against the walls. Straight in front of me, items dangling from an unplugged orange extension cord that looked like an oversized noose.

And then I saw the men.

They were laid out like cordwood, two men to each tiny 3-inch thick mattress placed directly on the tiled floor. As we entered at 1 A.M., many arose because, despite the late hour, the lights in the windowless room blared oppressively. A few even stood up and walked over to us with a warm greeting. After all, we were going to be joining them in just a moment. Simply more prisoners caught up in the international immigration system.

We were in the Estación Migratoria de Villahermosa. A small building in the capital city of the state of Tabasco, found on the Southern end of the Gulf of México.

From the outside, the structure appeared to be nothing more than a garage. A large grey sliding door obscuring the horrifying reality contained within.

I was certainly not the norm. A single Canadian with expired papers in a sea of upwards of 300 men, women, babies, and teenagers traveling without parents. Most were from Central America, chiefly Honduras and El Salvador, but there was also a smattering of folks from Cuba, Venezuela and other Latin American countries. During my intake interview in the office I was careful to note a poster made by the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) outlining our rights as migration prisoners–rights that I would see systematically ignored during my stay.

Nearly everyone was in the same situation: striving to get to the United States or Canada to be able to work and send money home to their families. All now in stasis. Caught and knowing they would eventually be deported, but in the dark about when or how that would come to pass. In one case, I saw a man collapse in on himself, tears streaming down his face, as he recalled his daughter on the phone a moment earlier asking him where he was and when he would be home to hug her.

There was another group though, a clump of bodies huddled together in a corner that stood out starkly. They were African men, non-Spanish speakers, most from Cameroon, with a few from Ghana.

The Cameroonians are part of a huge contingent of English-speakers from that country fleeing a civil war that has raged since 2017. The journey is harrowing: first escaping on foot to Nigeria, then flying to Ecuador, then walking six days through the jungle. Then taking buses and trains, trying to get to the US. Hundreds of dead bodies littered along the way.

There are at least five thousand people in their situation in México today, mostly in the small city of Tapachula in Chiapas, as it is the closest estación to the Southern border with Guatemala. They are trying to gain refugee status in an attempt to get away from the brutal French-speaking government of Cameroon that has been killing them for years over sovereignty, territorial, and resource disputes.

In the face of this estación, though, nearly everyone was equal. Forbidding walls rising twenty feet into the sky. No natural light, no fresh air, and no legal support. Four toilets and four showers, which worked sporadically, for more than two hundred men. The smell of hundreds of sweating bodies melding with the scent of the pile of styrofoam containers of leftover food from the previous meal. One ninety-second phone call per day to reach the outside world, whether family or consulate. Finger-sized cockroaches with free rein. And the pleasure of arriving during the rainy season in Tabasco, which meant flooding and soaked clothes and bedding on a daily basis, often in the middle of the night. On top of this were abusive guards, who would only grant access to a locked bathroom when they felt like it.

I must admit that I was treated better by the immigration officials than everyone else. As the lone white person there, the only gringo, I was a curiosity. They asked me about myself, wondered about Canada, and generally was dealt with as a human rather than a number. Being able to speak Spanish also meant that I could communicate with everyone and that, after a few days, I became the official translator for the Cameroonians and Ghanaians, since they had been provided none.

In fact, the first West African man there, who spent most of his days crying over his disappeared family back home, had sat for nearly four weeks before I arrived. He had been periodically brought in for interviews, but since he spoke only English and French, and they only Spanish, he was left to rot. No translator, no attempt to help him. Just waiting in a dour concrete prison with no idea what to do next. When I arrived I was happy to help, although being placed in the position of both prisoner and unpaid employee was certainly not ideal.

A recent report from the La Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH) stated that most of these Estaciones Migratorias in México are well beyond capacity, many holding 300% more than they should.1 Villahermosa is part of a system of nearly sixty such facilities, run both federally and by the thirty-two individual states.

The refugee crisis in Cameroon has certainly contributed to this overcrowding, but much of it stems from President Donald Trump’s July 2019 decision to outsource his country’s immigration problem to México. By supporting and funding further crackdowns south of the border, he has essentially dumped the issue into the laps of Mexican officials who are more than happy to take the new jobs and money. Like the private prisons of the United States, these facilities have a vested interest in remaining full. And while similar facilities in the US have been the focus of exposés, pushing the issue into México has meant that this is happening outside the purview of the mainstream American press.

Trump has also managed to exploit a country where wages are depressed, human rights defenders are overstrained, and a deep antipathy toward Central Americans already exists. To this end, the US pledged $10.6 Billion to curb Central American migration at the end of 20182. All these factors together help to create the perfect breeding ground for this kind of abusive detention center.

While this narrative could be explained with governments and policies, it is also a human story. It is the story of men escaping a war at home only to be imprisoned in a place they don’t understand. It is the story of a Honduran man falling off of a train, having his legs severed at the knee, and then being dumped in a prison-room with children who are then charged with tending to his infected wounds. And it is the tale of thousands of people being told that their desire to work hard and provide for their families is not enough to be treated with respect.

I was only in the facility for a matter of weeks before I was able to acquire an emergency visa to return home. But many others are not so lucky, and often remain without rights nor aid for months on end. And things are getting worse, not better, as the US floods more money into México for more checkpoints, more roadblocks, and more immigration police.

Perhaps the sadder truth is the answer I heard time and time again when I asked the men what they would do when they returned home:

“I will spend a night or two, and then I will turn around and come right back. What other choice do I have?”

If you or someone you know is struggling to gain status in Canada, or to work through the immigration system of another country, you can contact No One Is Illegal at: nooneisillegal@riseup.net for more information and/or legal advice.




1- Despertó Chile:Confronting The Violent Legacy Of Neoliberalism

by Cinthya Muñoz

One of my first memories as a young child in southern Chile was my father scolding me for saying the word “democracy”. Walking down a street in our small town, I asked him what democracy meant. He looked around nervously and sternly said, “don’t repeat that word.” It was the 80s and we were living in Pinochet’s authoritative dictatorship. Though Chile transitioned into a democratic government in the 90s, the legacy of his dictatorship lives on in the form of policies that have created deep socio-economic inequality.

Since October 18th of 2019, people across Chile have been flooding the streets to demand equality and dignity in the form of improved health care, pensions, wages, and education. High school students ignited the protests shortly after the Chilean government announced a 4 cent subway fare increase. Although students are exempt from the fare hike, they began jumping over turnstiles in solidarity with their family members.

According to the UN Development Program, 33% of the income generated by the Chilean economy is acquired by the richest 1% of the population. The 4 cent metro fare increase was the drop that spilled the glass.

They are demonstrating against structural adjustment polices, introduced at the point of a gun, during Pinochet’s bloody seventeen-year dictatorship. What we are witnessing today is a confrontation with this violent legacy of neoliberal capitalism.

Protests were met with police and military repression and human rights abuses that feel all-too familiar to those of us whose families lived through the dictatorship. A few days into the protests I received a text from my cousin in southern Chile. It was 1am and she was hiding from police in the restaurant where she works. “I’m terrified. I can’t go home,” she said, “the roads are blocked and they are shooting at people point blank. We’re in a dictatorship.”

A few days later I received a voice message from my friend in the capital city of Santiago. He was at a peaceful protest and cops tried to arrest him. He ran several blocks and hid from them. He told me that he left his ID at home, “if they had caught me, you wouldn’t have seen me again.” Chileans know what law enforcement is capable of, it is part of our collective memory of Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Pinochet’s military coup in 1973 initiated the first worldwide experiment with neoliberal state formation. Following advice from economists trained under Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago, Pinochet restructured the economy by privatizing public assets, opening up natural resources to private exploitation and facilitating free trade and foreign investment. Soon thereafter, the International Monetary Fund began imposing the Chilean model on all Latin American countries that defaulted on unjust debts. There is a link between what’s happening in Chile and the revolts unfolding in Honduras, Argentina, and beyond.

This economic shock treatment, often lauded as a “Chilean miracle” by economists, came at a great human cost. It was methodically implemented through a capitalist dictatorship of repression, kidnapping, torture, disappearance and homicide of tens of thousands of opponents.

During that time, many intellectuals and activists were “disappeared”. My own mother and aunt had college professors that went missing and were replaced without explanation. Approximately 200,000 exiles fled the country in fear that they too would be targeted.

Pinochet himself claimed that the only way to free the market was through force, and that once the economic experiment succeeded, Chile could go back to being a democracy. Yet the democratic governments of the past thirty years have not done enough to divest from Pinochet’s violent social and economic legacy. They continue to criminalize people who protest economic inequalities with the same “antiterrorist law” created to intimidate dissidents during the dictatorship.

Mapuche peoples have suffered the brunt of this repression. If you have seen pictures of the recent protests you have likely seen the Mapuche flag, a prominent display of anti-neoliberal sentiment. The Mapuche are the largest Indigenous group in Chile and make up 11% of the country’s population. They view their struggle against resource extraction and the corporate takeover of their territory as necessary to heal people and the earth from “the illness that is capitalism,” in the words of Mapuche healer Millaray Huichalaf. Police have staged arson of corporate property to blame Mapuche communities and have murdered Mapuche activists. Some Mapuche leaders have responded to the recent police brutality against protestors by saying, “now the Chileans know how Mapuche have been treated.”

President Piñera issued military martial law during the first days of the protests, seeding terror throughout the country. Since then, social media has been ablaze in viral footage of police and military shooting rubber-coated steel bullets point-blank at peaceful protestors and by-standers, among them elderly, homeless, children, and pregnant women. We’ve also seen police dragging people from their homes in the middle of the night, beating pedestrians with batons, firing tear gas canisters directly at people, and spraying water cannons laced with caustic soda at protestors. The brutality has been too much for me to bear at times, but my friends and family on the ground tell me, “we have nothing to lose. The knowledge that this is what the country needs helps mitigate the fear of police repression.”

Numerous reports of human rights violations, sexual violence, and torture of detainees have surfaced. Few of these violations have made headlines outside of Latin America until the viral performance of the song “The Rapist is You,” by Chilean feminist collective, Las Tesis, which denounces state-sanctioned sexual violence.

Over the past couple of months, police have intimidated medical professionals to not release information about patients treated for injuries during the protests. Agents of Chile’s human rights commission (INDH) have also not been given full access to carry out their investigations. According to the INDH, over 8,000 people have been arrested (including over 1,000 minors); 3,557 people have sought medical help for injuries; and 943 legal actions have been filed against police for torture, sexual violence, and murder or attempted murder. The latest INDH report claims that these are the worst human rights abuses since the dictatorship.

All eyes must remain on state-sanctioned violence against Chilean and Mapuche peoples. But we must also be mindful of the daily pervasive violence suffered by those who cannot access adequate healthcare, the elderly who have to panhandle because their pensions are not enough to cover the cost of living, the youth who go into insurmountable debt to get an education. In the supposedly wealthiest country in Latin America, this is what 40 years of neoliberalism looks like. It appears that the wound left behind by the dictatorship was never fully healed.

United in our collective trauma, this uprising is the medicine we need to restore our democracy. With millions of Chileans on the streets, the government has no option but create profound reforms. We were the model for neoliberal capitalism, and now we might be leading the way in its undoing. Stay tuned. This is a historic moment, not just for Chile, but for the world.

To contact the author: Cinthya.e.munoz@gmail.com

2- To our incarcerated subscribers

What we do: We provide free subscriptions to incarcerated individuals in the US who request them. Note that Slingshot only gets published 2-4 times a year so there will probably be a delay of some months between when you write us and when you get the paper. If you will only be at your current location for less than 3 months, it probably doesn’t make sense to write.

We accept submissions of art and articles from incarcerated subscribers. We don’t publish poetry or fiction, and only run personal narratives or stories about your case if they are framed within radical analysis. We can only publish a fraction of what we receive.

What we don’t do: we are unable to provide penpals, legal aid/advice, financial assistance, literature besides Slingshot, or respond to requests for other kinds of help. Usually, we can’t even personally write you back, though we read your words and appreciate the thoughts and stories you share. We cannot use JPay or other inmate email services. Unless otherwise noted, the addresses associated with zines we review or radical spaces listed are unlikely to be able to respond to prisoner correspondence.

Other resources: Folks inside get a free resource guide from Prison Activist Resource Center PO Box 70447 Oakland, CA 94612.

Comrades on the outside: We receive 5-10 letters from incarcerated folks every day. We welcome help reading this mountain of mail and processing subscription requests!

1- The grief of gentrification

By Gnat

“Fuck this city”. My best friend of twelve years, Luz, is full of rage at our hometown. Her family lived in a small apartment in the Mission district of San Francisco and their landlord sued them, claiming their belongings were a “fire hazard”. They contacted Causa Justa and San Francisco Tenants Union for help. Two months after a furious clean-up effort was underway, they lost the case and were evicted from their home of 36 years.

Prior to the trial, Luz had attempted suicide and her therapist advised her to stay in the psychiatric ward. When I found out on Halloween night, I broke down crying. Many of Luz’s friends and working-class neighbors are being systematically displaced. In the Mission, the diaspora of Chicano, Caribbean, Central and South American immigrants came in the mid-20th century and revitalized the spirit of the city before gentrification. Luz’s family holds strong roots: her father teaches music classes at the Mission Cultural Center, her mother knows all the church ladies, and she and her brother frequent flea markets to support their resale business at conventions.

We were both born and raised in this city. We’ve been involved in each other’s cultural backgrounds since we met in high school. She signs up every year to be a vendor at my synagogue’s Hanukkah Crafts Fair, enjoying tchotchkes like the “Mensch on a Bench” while we sell a variety of handmade gifts. We would volunteer together during Dia de los Muertos at the cultural center, passing out cinnamon hot chocolate mixed with corn husks, and breads shaped like skeletons. Her dad calls me, “my second daughter”. It makes me very sad to imagine their family gone from the Mission.

What has happened to San Francisco? My generation is living with our parents, or splitting rent amongst many roommates while working two jobs. We are the lucky ones. There are many more, California locals, who are living out of vans, wooden shelters and tents on the street, battling the elements and a society who wishes they disappeared. This city and its prosperous neighbors, Oakland and Berkeley, prefer to sweep the blocks, destroying belongings, acting like the homeless should be criminalized for their state of being. San Francisco was a haven: for the Hippies, the LGBTQ+ movement, cultural neighborhoods from Chinatown to the Fillmore district of black jazz, and so much more. Now, it welcomes affluent travelers, but treats the counter-culture as a novelty of a bygone era.

Last month, my friends and I were at a bar following a meal at one of the coziest Vietnamese restaurants still around. As I watched a television, someone started a conversation. “Where’d you grow up?”, he asked, and I answered, “the Sunset”, a quiet gridded neighborhood west of Twin Peaks. His eyes got large, and he said, “Can I touch you? Are you real?”, while delivering a poke to my shoulder. I looked at my friends, and gestured to them, saying, “They’re also from here. Of course we’re real!” As comical as it sounds, the comment was vaguely insulting. You want to talk about “real”, why don’t we acknowledge the Native North Americans who still live here, too?

It’s a common misconception that the Native Americans disappeared. We rarely consider the assimilation of Native people into the urban mainstream, or the reservations which Natives may call home, miles from their ancestral origins. Read Tommy Orange’s latest novel, There There, a fantastic representation of Native Americans in modern-day Oakland. There may be a lack of media covering Native culture beyond the stereotypes we see in pop culture, such as racist sports mascots.

When I was in fourth grade, my teacher Mr. Chard taught us about the Ohlone, a Bay Area tribe. We went on walking field trips to canyons and lagoons, collecting acorns or watching birds flit about the wild reeds. We studied the Ohlone’s tule reed and redwood bark homes and built small models of their villages. We also learned about Ishi’s cave, a shrine nestled in the cliffs of Mount Sutro. During the 19th century, a series of battles between the U.S. army and Indigenous tribes sent survivors into hiding. Ishi was kept in the campus museum as an exhibit by UC Berkeley, working as a janitor while his homeland irrevocably changed. By looking back on the past century, we may see parallels in this story of systemic displacement.

Following WWII, the Great Migration of African-Americans led from the deep South to Oakland and the Fillmore District of San Francisco, where they worked in the shipping industry and established strong black-owned businesses. The African-American population in San Francisco peaked at 100,000 in 1970. For fifty years following, however, they have been forced out of their homes and neighborhoods. Justin Herman of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency engineered “urban renewal” to widen Geary Boulevard and turn family homes into parking lots on over 60 city blocks that were demolished. The SFRA enforced patterns of urban planning that are detrimental to cities being lively networks of history and culture.

I always grow anxious as a passenger, stuck in traffic riding over the 280 North. High-rise condominiums in Mission Bay loom over the freeway, a tight grid complete with LED streetlights uniformly dotting a sterile, soulless path. Redevelopment is everywhere, catering to the mass migration of out-of-state corporate tech workers. As a child, I used to see marshy wetlands out the window, a smokestack on the horizon, brick warehouses; industry crossed with the beautiful wilderness of open land. Cooped up in a car, neck-and-neck with thousands of other vehicles on the freeway, I breathe a sigh of relief when I see the gritty sidewalks of 9th and Bryant again.

Grief. That’s the word I finally identify with what I’m feeling. It surfaced during the night of November 16, while I lay curled up in a borrowed green sleeping bag, on two yoga mats and a gray tarp covering the parking lot of an organization that provides art classes and job training for underserved youth. Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA) hosted a “sleep-out” complete with a poetry reading and film screening of Lost in America (2019), a documentary on the neglect of youth homelessness. In 2017, the first study on this subject revealed 4 million unaccompanied youth, living out on the street.

At first, I felt a level, grounded sensation as participants in the sleep-out joined in solidarity with advocates at Here There homeless encampment, standing on their patch of land, holding hands and singing “We Shall Overcome”, an old spiritual I learned as a child. Folks shared why they were there; one young mother said, “I feel homeless, even though I live with my mom in my hometown of San Francisco.” One thing I realized while lying in the parking lot: two yoga mats barely made the concrete surface any less hard, and cardboard would be better. My face was cold, and I wore gloves, a scarf and socks. I was crying quietly at 3:00 AM. Outside on that gray tarp, as the stars shone, I was thinking too much. I was remembering the past and worrying about the present. I was disconnected, confused, lost: revisiting the part of myself that was scared of feeling too much. I noticed my big heart. Change on its own is inevitable, but is different from injustice. I weigh the events of the past. I reflect on these memories, the love, the confusion, the bridging of boundaries and the dissolution of borders. What the sleepless night at YSA taught me was that instability from losing one’s home is harsh. Where do we go when the last safe place is gone?

I had left the rent-controlled apartment I shared with over 25 different roommates in my early twenties. Living there was a roller-coaster of joy and misery. I was the last original tenant and therefore, Costa-Hawkins, the California law that restricts rent control measures on certain kinds of tenancies, allowed my landlord to raise the rent to market value once I moved. My roommates were displaced, and if I hadn’t found new tenants to sign on, they would charge me every month the apartment stood unoccupied. As stated on Causa Justa/Just Cause’s plea to expand rent control,“Because of Costa Hawkins, tenants in the community are divided by who has rent control and who doesn’t. People are afraid to give up their current rent-controlled apartments because it is now exorbitantly expensive to move to a new place.” When everyone and everything there was gone, the apartment stood as a cold, empty shell, waiting to be filled.

Luz and her family moved northeast of San Francisco to one of the last towns on the BART line, settling in during the winter holiday season. They were able to buy their own house, complete with a large yard, fireplace, and bedrooms for everyone. During Thanksgiving, Luz, her brother Plato, his childhood friend Lio and I went to the movies. I hadn’t seen Lio for almost seven years, and was surprised to see he’s on disability, walking with a crutch. He cracks jokes, lively and mischievously. Within the same timeline as Luz and Plato, Lio’s family was hit with an arbitrary $600 rent increase this January that may push them out of their home. Displacement is absolutely heartbreaking.

We helped Tetris boxes of belongings into the family’s rented moving van, and drove with them to unpack in their new home. We passed by scenery fluctuating between new high-rise apartments by the BART tracks, and one-story bungalows filling suburban gridded neighborhoods. We reached “cow country”, and the vast open fields evoked a primal sense of loneliness and calm satisfaction. Many of their neighbors from the Mission are also facing eviction notices. They need unions, better income distribution, and public resistance. But, Luz is going to be okay. We’ll miss this city.

Are you a resident of the Bay Area? Are you facing eviction? Here are several resources:

-Causa Justa/Just Cause: “We fight grassroots campaigns to win immigrant rights and housing rights and work toward building a larger movement for social transformation.” https://cjjc.org/

-San Francisco Tenants Union: “Through drop-in counseling services and the distribution of the Tenants Rights Handbook, the SFTU has helped thousands of San Francisco renters stay in their homes.” https://www.sftu.org/